domestic violence

a 19-year-old wounded supply clerk
was rescued from an iraqi hospital.
she came from palestine, west
virginia, where future kindergarten
teachers join the military
because they can't afford college. america's
heart knelt with jessica's
oversized parents as they wept
and rejoiced on tv. this was a true story-
book romance. the public played
the suitor showering the happenstance
heroine with flowers and gifts--too many
to fit in a cramped hospital room--until
the young lady, always polite, begged
please stop sending them.

a cadre of special forces
performed the rescue, acting
on the tip of a nurse's
husband. they may've imagined
retrieving helen of troy or freeing
nazi camp survivors. most likely
they didn't know they were the
enemy: that a mere twenty-four
hours earlier, the heroine
had been returned to the hospital
after allied forces shot at
the iraqi ambulance hauling her
down the potholed road to safety.

no matter--if the drama was staged,
it was done unwittingly and
jessica, a real sleeping beauty,
has no memory. what's important
is our country's jesus-like
generosity--pure magnanimousness--
in giving the nurse's husband
and the nurse! the hope
of becoming citizens.


She was the fence to protect our building.
--Dr. Samir speaking of Rachel Corrie, 1979-2003

i am filled with horror at the
situation here, she told a tv
reporter. two days later, the bull-
dozer came for her. her eyes
were evidence, words shaped
by her breath could stir
up governments, but her death
would be a military accident.

on march 16, rachel stood outside the square
cement house on the edge of gaza that belonged
and belongs to a doctor. for seven weeks, her body,
its pale american skin, had shielded
the bullet-pocked, half-painted structure
that jutted re-bar. that sunday, she held
the path of a vehicle driven by a soldier
with orders to raze the house
to create a buffer zone and eliminate

violent people living there. for two hours
as the blade inched closer, closer, she held
fast. then, the soldier pushed the gouged
dirt over her and dragged the heavy
treads across her body, backing up
for good measure. the hospital described
the cause of death as suffocation. the doctor said
he knows the house he lives in with his wife
and children won't stand much longer.

vanishing hoof-prints

in the northeast corner of
washington and the northern tip
of idaho, thirty mountain
caribou wander the selkirk
range, crossing back
and forth to canada.
they eat witch's hair
or old man's beard--lichens
that hang from the dense,
old-growth canopy.
they are so shy, hardly
anyone sees them; only
a few more know of them.

now the whir
of snowmobiles interrupts
their quiet trek
through once-hushed whiteness.
their snowshoe hooves
are becoming useless.
as you read this, insatiable
logging companies dismantle
the remaining canopy--
trucks rattle mountain
roads, pronged flat-beds
waiting for corpses
that took hundreds
of years to grow.

biologists predict the selkirk
caribou will "wink out" like city
lights during a black out.
like gamblers who put down
their last bucks, we'll watch,
transfixed, as thirty
dwindle to zero. even stewards
concede it's not tenable
to close the forests
to snowmobiles, to stop logging.
they grasp what you and i may not:
someone, somewhere, did a calculation--
logging and recreation outweigh
species preservation.

drizzle with some wind*

this is a poem for the
three people who camped
at 3 a.m. in front of the
seattle federal building
after we bombed iraq.
they huddled in blankets
while i slept cozy
with my husband and
cat. the forty bombs
that kurd soldiers
thought were too few
didn't worry my sleep, but the
three who camped
where i once worked
understood what forty
bombs can do. they offered
wakefulness and vigilance,
the faith of humble acts,

*This is a postcard poem in the style pioneered by the poet Ted Kooser.

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